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Transportation plan for getting around Italy? (Rome, Florence, Venice, etc)

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Transportation plan for getting around Italy? (Rome, Florence, Venice, etc)

Old Jan 8th, 2004, 08:01 AM
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Transportation plan for getting around Italy? (Rome, Florence, Venice, etc)

A friend and I will be visiting Italy some time in April, and we want to visit some of the major cities like Rome, Florence, Venice, and maybe hit some other well known spots like Pisa and Cinque Terre.

We're in the planning stages of how to get around right now, and want to get some suggestions on the better, cheaper ways to travel. Is there a good train system we could easily use?
Comments?

Thanks.
robkoval is offline  
Old Jan 8th, 2004, 08:15 AM
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Hi. We just got back two days ago from a Rome->Florence->Venice trip. We flew into Rome, then took the train to Florence, then took the train to Venice, and flew home from Venice.

We took the Eurostar trains, which were very nice. They are comparable to Amtrak trains.

We booked both trains online before our trip using the website http://www.trenitalia.com. It was relatively easy with the help of a phrase translator like babelfish.altavista.com

Presumably we could have bought our train tickets once we arrived in Rome, but we were traveling during Christmas/New Year's, so we thought it was better to plan ahead.

Ticket retrieval was easy using the automated machines in the train stations. You simply enter the confirmation number you got when you booked online, and the machine spits out your tickets.

We booked second class for the Rome to Florence trip, which is about an hour and a half, and we booked first class for the Florence to Venice trip which is close to three hours.

There was not much difference between the two classes. In first class you have a little more room, and you get a beverage. The second class car was full on our trip to Florence, while there were some empty seats on our trip to Venice. But this could have been due to the days we were traveling. In any case, I am really torn on whether it was worth it for first class. The extra room was nice for a longer ride later in a tiring trip, but the difference was not truly significant. We could have gone second class for that ride and spent the extra euros on better wine in Venice.

In any case, the train stations are nice, modern, safe, etc... and the trains are easy to manage.

Have a great time.
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Old Jan 8th, 2004, 08:33 AM
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madmax - It took an hour and a half from Rome to Florence traveling 2nd class? I will be traveling Florence to Rome in March and assumed it would be much longer. Do you remember which train system and how much it was?
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Old Jan 8th, 2004, 08:33 AM
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Hi robkoval,

I easily bought train tickets on Dec 21 in Florence at the train station for a Dec 24 Florence to Rome train.

When the train arrived I went to a 2nd class car by mistake. Every seat was taken and people were loudly discussing where to put luggage.
The first class car had more room for the luggage( we are a family of four and everyone had a full size suitcase) and I thanked the stars I bought a first class ticket.
Good luck.
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Old Jan 8th, 2004, 09:00 AM
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Hi Soleil,

I can give you all the details. It was a Eurostar train, and I booked on the trenitalia website. It was scheduled to leave Rome at 8:30 and to arrive in Florence at 10:06. (I think we were a minute or two late, but you get the idea.) The cost for second class seats was 29.44 Euro each.

Hope that helps. Have a great trip!
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Old Jan 8th, 2004, 09:03 AM
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ira
 
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Hi madmax,

Thanx for the info that one can now purchase tickets online from www.trenitalia.com.

I have been trying to sign up.

After registering, where they ask for my name, user ID and eml address, I got a message saying I was registered.

When I tried to buy a ticket, it asked for my user ID and **password**. Where do I register my password?

Thanks for the help.
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Old Jan 8th, 2004, 09:04 AM
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Hi Madmax,

Never mind. It occurred to me that they would email it to me, and sure enough, there it was.
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Old Jan 8th, 2004, 09:13 AM
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The trains between Rome, Florence, Venice, and Pisa are easy, cheap, and low-stress. Definitely the way to go. As far as the CT, I haven't been but from what I understand you will need a car to explore the area. Does anyone that has been there have an idea? I think I would lean towards train travel, then renting a car from Florence for the CT days.
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Old Jan 8th, 2004, 09:40 AM
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Hi Ira. Good luck with the site.

One word of warning about the site. It can be flaky at times. The first time I tried to use it, it refused to list the schedules for the stations I wanted. The second time, it told me all trains I wanted were not available for online purchase.

I think I had the bad luck to visit the site twice during maintenance times. The third time was the charm, and everything was smooth.

If the site seems to be malfunctioning, don't go crazy. Just try again in a few hours. Keep in mind that most internet maintenance work is done during "off-hours", meaning evenings and sometimes weekends.
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Old Jan 8th, 2004, 09:45 AM
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Hi madmax,

Yes, I'm familiar with the oddities of the site. At this point, the password they sent me doesn't work.

Still, it is a major step forward. Back in September, one couldn't buy tickets online without an Italian ID.
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Old Jan 8th, 2004, 09:46 AM
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We were in Italy last winter and traveled by train from Rome to Florence and then on from Florence to Venice. I used the trenitalia site to get the train schedules, but I purchased the tickets when I arrived in Italy. It is easy to get the tickets at the train stations - we even used the automated ticket machines. We got the cheapest fares for each trip (no first class) and had no issues or problems with the travel arrangements. There were 4 of us traveling and we had no problem getting the tickets in Italy. Are there extra charges for purchasing in advance? If so, I would consider getting the tickets the when you arrive.
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Old Jan 8th, 2004, 09:47 AM
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We travelled from Venice to Rome to Florence to Cinque Terre on the train network in the fall of '02 without any problems.

The Eurostar trains were very nice and are scheduled almost every hour between Rome and Florence.
Getting to Cinque Terre took a bit longer as you go on a regional train, but it was easy to do.

We bought a Eurail Pass because we were visiting other countries, and simply made reservations for the next leg when we would arrive in each city. In retrospect, I would probably just buy my tickets in Italy once I arrived in my first city (unless you will be travelling in peak times) because it is fairly straightforward.
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Old Jan 8th, 2004, 10:14 AM
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Ira,

I just remembered something. I think it might have taken a day for my password to register on their system. You might think about waiting until tomorrow morning to do this.
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Old Jan 8th, 2004, 10:16 AM
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As far as I know there was no surcharge for buying online. So if you know which trains you want to take, it can't hurt to lock in a seat.
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Old Jan 8th, 2004, 10:47 AM
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4sammy: You do not need a car to explore the Cinque Terre. From Florence, it is a two hour train ride to La Spezia, where you change to the local train that goes between all five of the towns. Once in the CT, you also have the option of going from one town to the other by boat (weather permitting)or walking the trails between them.
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Old Jan 8th, 2004, 11:32 AM
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ira
 
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Hi Rob,

You might find this thread useful:
Helpful Information: Italy http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...2&tid=34443340
ira is offline  
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